President’s Corner

by John Besser, President

Birding in the time of covid-19. Restrictions on ‘social distance’ this spring have had many serious social and economic consequences, and cancellations of Columbia Audubon Society (CAS) meetings and field trips are far from the biggest problems we face. Still, spring migration is the most cherished time of the year for birders and perhaps the time that birding is a most conspicuously social activity. From local field trips to the state ASM (oops! MBS) meeting to the hordes converging on Magee Marsh during the Biggest Week in American Birding, birders come together in this season to share the bounty of migrating birds–or to grouse about their scarcity. [Editor’s note: The Audubon Society of Missouri (ASM) recently changed its name to the Missouri Birding Society (MBS).]

We make up for limitations on travel and group gatherings using the tools of our modern era, including phone calls and text messages, e-mails to MOBIRDS, and by sharing our best bird photos via Facebook. When we converge on the birdiest locations we happily encounter fellow birders, often leading to impromptu bird walks in small groups–separated of course by the wingspan of a Turkey Vulture!

Spring Migration Bird Count is May 9. One upcoming event that doesn’t really qualify as either a field trip or a large-group activity is the Boone County spring migration count, which is scheduled for Saturday May 9. We intend to go forward with this ‘Big Day’ with a few modifications. As usual, leaders will be responsible for organizing the count within their designated areas, but this year we ask area leaders to accommodate individuals or small family/household groups that want to participate by assigning them specific locations to cover.  Dr. Laura Hillman will be coordinating the count by assigning leaders to each count area and by helping interested individuals connect with an area leader. If you want to participate, but are not assigned to a group, contact Laura via e-mail (HillmanL@health.missouri.edu).

One change for this year’s count is that we will attempt to compile all observations using eBird. When you submit a checklist to eBird, simply select the option to ‘share’ each checklist with the CAS group eBird account (enter the username, ‘casbirddata’). If you need help in getting your bird lists into eBird, feel free to contact me by email.

Board Business. Although the April meeting was canceled, the Board of Directors held a ‘Zoom’ video meeting on April 15 to catch up on unfinished business:

  • Our biggest accomplishment was to approve a change in CAS’s insurance carrier and to upgrade our coverage. The new policy will be provided by the Nonprofits Insurance Alliance and will improve liability coverage for the board of directors and field trip leaders while providing liability coverage for accidents at the chapter’s nature areas.
  • The board organized a Nominations Committee to recommend candidates for officer and board positions that will become vacant at the end of the fiscal year. The committee is chaired by CAS Secretary, Nancy Bedan, with the capable assistance of Jan Mees and Lori Hagglund.
  • The board also discussed revisions to the draft FY2020 chapter budget, but final action was postponed to allow us to resolve some pending changes in our expected expenses, notably the increase in insurance costs.
  • The board will have another meeting during May to finalize these pending items, and we hope to hold a Spring Picnic/General Membership Meeting that would include a vote on the slate of candidates. Date and location have not yet been decided.

I hope you are all staying safe and finding time for birding and other mental health breaks!

Archive of board minutes on the website

by Joanna Reuter

Official meeting minutes are posted to the website after approval (typically at each subsequent board meeting). This has been standard practice since CAS upgraded its website in fall of 2017. The web page for minutes has recently been updated so that the full archive of minutes is much easier to browse; simply scroll down to the bottom of the page, below the most recent minutes, for an index of the archive.  Thanks very much to CAS Webmaster Doug Miller for this upgrade.

News Editor needed for 2020–2021

by  Joanna & Eric Reuter

In addition to the elected positions for the board, CAS will need a new editor for The Chat beginning this summer. Our household has handled this duty for nearly six years, with Eric taking over from Jan Mees in fall 2014 and Joanna succeeding him in fall 2019. During that time, we’ve worked together to produce every issue of The Chat except one (during a vacation) and have valued trying to share our love of birding and information with the readership.

The Chat has a multi-decadal history (this issue marks the end of volume 62), much of which is archived at the State Historical Society of Missouri. The current website, launched in fall 2017, was designed to modernize communications and  streamline publication while maintaining the history and continuity of the monthly newsletter. Other chapters have had their newsletters fizzle as one editor stepped down and no new editor stepped up. Please consider whether you could be the next link in the chain of editors of The Chat. If you have skills in writing, publishing, and/or communications, as well as an interest in birds/nature, then please consider volunteering for this position. Familiarity with WordPress is a plus.

Questions about the position can be directed to Joanna or Eric. If you’d like to volunteer, contact either  Communications Chair Allison Vaughn or a member of the nominating committee (Nancy Bedan, Jan Mees, or Lori Hagglund).

Supporting CAS

Carrying out our mission through education, conservation, and outreach takes a wide variety of resources, from the valued time of dedicated volunteers to the financial support of members and donors. We welcome and appreciate all participants and supporters of our work through their generous donations of time, money, or other resources.

Submitting material to The Chat

The Chat is published online on the first of every month from September through May. Submissions are welcome, including photographs, stories, and brief notes about bird or nature observations. See the About page for contact information for submissions.